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HOME : Chinese Art : Sui Dynasty : Sui Ochre-Glazed Terracotta Sculpture of a Standing Man with European Features
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Sui Ochre-Glazed Terracotta Sculpture of a Standing Man with European Features - X.0363
Origin: China
Circa: 581 AD to 618 AD
Dimensions: 10.25" (26.0cm) high x 7" (17.8cm) wide
Collection: Chinese
Style: Sui Dynasty
Medium: Glazed Terracotta


Location: Great Britain
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Description
Despite its brief duration, lasting for the rule of only two emperors, the Sui Dynasty paved the way for the golden age attained during the T’ang Dynasty. Perhaps their most significant program was the construction of the Great Canal, a project that facilitated the movement of people and goods across great distances, leading to the reunification of China. However, the cost of the Canal bankrupted the empire and ultimately led to its dissolution. The rulers of the T’ang would capitalize on the infrastructure improvements of the Sui and establish one of the greatest empires in the history of China, following the footsteps of the Sui.

Secular sculpture of the Sui dynasty is represented by tomb figurines that are slim and unadorned, characterized by a yellowish crème glazed that would be elaborated upon in the Sancai-glazed ware of the T’ang Dynasty. These figurines, still bearing earthen residue, exemplify Sui tastes, as they were made specifically to accompany their lord in the afterlife. This stunning sculpture of a standing man bears the physiognomy and costume of a European. His hair is curly and his eyes are wide open. He wears a robe that falls across his chest much like a toga. During the Golden Age of the T’ang Dynasty, which this Sui sculpture preceeded, China was a vibrant, multi-cultural society where foreign merchants lived and traded among the native Chinese populations. It is possible that this man represents a trader from the Byzantine west who settled in China. Considering that this sculpture was found inside it tomb, it is likely that the deceased was a trader himself who profited from dealing with his Western counterparts. In the next life, this sculpture would have awaited his resurrection, eager to continue trading in the great beyond.
- (X.0363)

 

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